The ECHL regular season finally came to an end yesterday and things didn’t turn out so well for the Allen Americans. The Toledo Walleye defeated Kalamazoo 8-2 to pass Allen by one point (107-106) for the best record in the ECHL and take home the Brabham Cup. Toledo is to be congratulated for an outstanding season as they went from worst to first in their conference in just one year. From 49 points last year to 107 this year is the biggest single season turnaround in ECHL history.
Despite missing out on the Brabham Cup by one point it was an amazing first season in the ECHL for the Allen Americans and finishing second in points assures home ice advantage all they way to the finals. If Allen should make it to the Kelly Cup finals and face any team other than Toledo they will have home ice in the finals as well. Job well done by the Americans.
The task at hand however, is the first round of the playoffs and as they say in sports once you make the playoffs anything can happen. It seems like in hockey more than many other sports, lower seeds take out higher seeds frequently. The Americans will be totally focused on the Tulsa Oilers starting at practice today as they prepare for their first playoff game tomorrow. Because of scheduling conflicts with the Allen Event Center (AEC) the ECHL approved an early start to the playoffs for this series. Of the eight first round playoff series only Allen vs Tulsa starts on Tuesday (4/14). Of the other seven series one starts on Wednesday, two on Thursday and four start on Friday.
Steve Martinson will have a busy day as in addition to practice this morning (10:00 a.m.) he has to submit the playoff roster to the league office by 2:00 p.m. Allen time. It is always difficult making the final decision to leave someone off the playoff roster.
Here is my take:
- The roster can have a maximum of 23 players with 19 on the active roster and up to four reserves.
- Unlike the CHL amateurs take up a roster spot so they are not a “bonus”
- Goalies also take up a roster spot so if you put an extra goalie on the roster it costs one of the 23 spots. Based on recent playing time you would expect Riley Gill and Joel Rumpel to be the goalies and J.P. Anderson would head back to Worcester.
- The ECHL rule allows you to have slots for players in the AHL that are qualified to play without naming the players. The Americans have five players currently in the AHL (Ian Schultz, Gary Steffes, Aaron Dell, Rylan Schwartz, Tanner Eberle) that are qualified to play for Allen in the playoffs. Coach Martinson has decided to save four slots on the roster for these players but doesn’t have to decide which players to add until they become available by their AHL teams. This provides a lot more flexibility as some of these players may never become available to Allen because their team makes a deep run in the AHL playoffs.
- Given the fact that most if not all of the five players currently in the AHL will not be back for the start of the first round against Tulsa it will be difficult for coach Martinson to put injured players that are not available for the first round on the playoff roster. Tyler Ludwig, Brian McMillin, Mike DiPaolo, and Jesse Messier all fall in this category. With four forwards in the AHL and no defensemen it is most likely that Tyler would be the injured player on the roster even if he misses the first round as expected.
- There may be some surprises but when the playoff roster is released this afternoon my prediction would be that all of the players that are currently playing will be on the roster, just one injured player will make it and there will only be 19 names listed with four slots reserved for the players currently in the AHL. If any of the AHL players are being sent to Allen today their name will be on the roster and the four slots will be reduced.